Faces of UMSI: Jessamine Bartley-Matthews
The sense of service that took Jessamine Bartley-Matthews to Nicaragua as a Peace Corps Volunteer also brought her to UMSI as a graduate student.
The MSI student and Coverdell Fellow was considering several programs, but she ultimately chose UMSI because of its commitment to service and the opportunities to get involved in substantial projects that reflect what she learns in class, she says.
“I didn't just want to learn theories; I wanted to get my hands dirty and really use my new skills to make a meaningful impact.”
That’s not surprising for someone who spent two years as an agriculture volunteer in Nicaragua, an experience she says helps her succeed at UMSI.
“So much of what I do in class and on the job relies on being quick on your feet and navigating ambiguous situations, something you learn in spades during the Peace Corps,” she says.
Since coming to UMSI, Jessamine has also learned a lot—including the breadth of the field of human-computer interaction, or HCI. “My classes so far have opened my eyes to a number of new fields, and the flexibility of our program means that I can devote my second year to diving deeper into topics that interest me,” she says.
At UMSI, she’s been able apply what she’s learning in the classroom in a number of projects, many with a service element. As a UMSI Design Clinic team member, for example, she worked on a project that used a customized Minecraft interface to help autistic children build social skills. As a UX Design Fellow at the Digital Innovation Greenhouse, meanwhile, she has led the UX redesign of a tool that uses data and tailoring technology to give undergraduates in large introductory course personalized feedback for improving their grades.
She also won the runner-up prize at the UMSI ExpoSItion in the Civic Tech category for HUB, a system she designed that pairs a mobile app with a cycling glove that lets cyclers mark problem spots on a map to promote personal and public safety.
Jessamine says she easily identified other RPCVs at UMSI. “These are the people that ask some of the toughest questions, that refuse to accept the status quo, and that are continually reflecting on how what they’re learning can be applied to real-world problems,” she says. “It’s an incredibly thoughtful group of people, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”